chapter  5
30 Pages

The mastery of despair, 1953–71 After the war: the DPRK – After the war: the ROK – The Second

At the conclusion of the Korean War the division of Korea was an accomplished fact. It was reinforced by two mutually exclusive political and economic systems, by the nature of the foreign alliances that guaranteed each Korean state’s security, by massive shifts of population – 10-12 percent of the southern population was now of northern origin, and a lesser but still significant number of southerners had gone north, by reciprocal bloodshed and atrocity, and by two competing and irreconcilable claims to represent and speak for all Koreans. In the decades ahead, Koreans continued to argue that their common history until 1945 and their profound historical and cultural sense of unity would eventually bring about reunification. Meanwhile, however, the equally profound sense of historical and cultural separateness that had developed since 1945 ensured that the division would continue, and that both Koreas would develop as modern states with the promise and threat of war influencing political thinking and state policy at almost every turn.